At the end of 2016, we were in Phnom Penh. We had a great experience at Siem-Reap and our hosts at Bayon Villa, ensured that our first visit to Cambodia should make us visit again. The plan was to go to Vietnam next and specifically to the Mekong Delta. Our return flight to India was from Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City, as it is now called.
In the Mekong Delta region, we were looking at staying for a couple of days at Can Tho. Now, if you look at the map, you would see the location of Saigon and Can Tho.
So anyone would recommend that after Phonm Penh, we should go directly to ‘Can Tho’ and then move upwards to ‘Saigon’. So we created our itinerary, booked hotels and left the last mile planning to a later day. When it was time to plan the transfers, we started looking for connections, only to discover that there is no good direct way to reach Can Tho from Phnom Penh.
We called up our hotel in Phnom Penh as well as Can Tho, but no luck. Everyone shared the bus routes but all of them were going to Can Tho, via Saigon. It seemed so lame and dumb to do that. When everything fails, Internet comes as a savior so we started scavenging sites like TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet and what not. To our luck, we found one hard-to-believe post saying that there is a bus that goes directly. But it was an old link with no recent activity.
So we jotted down all the info, crossed our fingers and hoped that when we reach Phnon Penh, we would be able to find this company.
If you have read this far, then probably you are like me. So to cut it short, we asked our hotel guy to confirm the details we had very sincerely jotted down and carried with us. Unfortunately, the phone number is not valid any more. The travel desk at hotel were 100 % clear that there is no direct bus.
Well, you do what needs to be done. We just decided to land at the street and find the office in person and confront the possibility. And there it was! There indeed is a bus which can take you directly to Can Tho.
Since it was hard for me to find this info, I thought I would share a detailed write-up to save some anxiety for my fellow travelers.
So here’s a 10 pointer guide.
1. There IS a daily bus and the address of the bus company is:
Bus Express & Travel (Cambodia) Co. Ltd
#09 DEo, Street 230, Phsar Deumkor Commune
Tuoi Kork District, Phnom Penh
Tel : 00 855 972 119 339 – 099 790 443
And in case you are on the other side in Vietnam, then the office address is:
107 Tran Hung Dao – Q. NK
– 38C Nguyen Van Linh, P. HungLoi,
Q. Ninh Kiey – TP. Can Tho
Tel : 84 918 262 053
84 710 3832 203
2. The office in Phnom Penh is on Street 230 but it would be hard to locate so first ask your Tuk-Tuk guy to reach the junction of Street 336,215 and 230. There is a Gas Station there. Start walking on 230. The bus office is right opposite Sak Sit Dental Clinic and Lily 6466 Salon.
3. Get in and show your intent. The guy would make a note on this big white board. The fair is USD 16 per person and you pay on the day of travel.
4. On the day of journey, we arrived the same office which was to be the point of departure. The bus was standing there, ready to go. At/About 5.30 we observed two food vendors right in front of the bus. I guess they must be coming daily so it is OK to not plan for any food. We carried our food and realised that it was not worth the curation.
5. The bus is a bit run-down. The bus starts at 6.00 but we were repeatedly told to be there at 5.00. I think that is an overkill, if you have already reserved your place. I would imagine that if you show-up by 5.30 you should be good. We were the ONLY foreigners in the bus and it was not full. When you show-up they would then take the money (USD 16 per person) and give you the receipt.
They would also take your passports.
7. The first stop is at a bakery, under an hour. Its a good place to eat fresh food, use the toilets and take some fresh air.
8. In about 3 hours, the bus reaches the Cambodian side of border. You wait in the bus. It took us 30 minutes to get through. During this time, you can buy VND because unlike Cambodia, it is the local currency which works in Vietnam. The exchange rates looked fair (23000 VND for a dollar) or even better than some places in Saigon. You can also buy a SIM card, as long as you can manage to strike a conversation in Vietnamese.
9. Then the bus drives for another 100 meters and now you are in VN. A police officer climbed up our bus and looked at each passport and each person. Quite quick. You still remain in the bus and after about 30 minutes, the bus guy comes back with your passport stamped. You are done now :-)
10. Now you are in VN. Enjoy the vast expanses of paddy fields and millions of 2-wheelers. At about 11.30 ,the bus stops for food (included in the fare). Good decent food.
And then at about 2, it drops you at the Can Tho bus station. You can hail the green taxi easily. Like all the bus stations, there would be always be a few taxi guys who you should avoid. But hailing a taxi and going by the meter has not been difficult for me ever in Vietnam so just sit tight and you would find a good guy to take you to all of Vietnam.
And that finishes our bus trip.
If you have come looking for this info and if this reduces some of your anxiety and helps you plan your trip then please leave a comment. :-)
I am already dreaming another trip to Vietnam.